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The 6 Speaking Commandments from the Melania Trump Controversy

Melania Trump

We all knew we’d be discussing Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention, but none of us knew that the conversation would not be on her message, but how many phrases she stole verbatim from Michelle Obama’s speech 8 years ago.

So, let’s use her speech as a learning moment, shall we?

The 6 Commandments Of Speaking:

  1. Thou Shalt Not Steal – Every speaker at some point hears a story or phrase that they adore; but you cannot steal it – ever! Your words are your words and to paraphrase the current first lady: your words are your bond.#bio is for your eyes, verbal intro is for your ears Click To Tweet
  1. Move Away From the Lectern – Although unusual at conventions, it would have been nice and natural for her to use the space instead of cementing herself behind the lectern.
  1. Thou Shall Be Introduced – It’s easy to overlook this key principle of speaking. You must have a verbal introduction. And, The Donald introducing his wife was perfect. Remember: a bio is for your eyes, an intro is for your ears.
  2. Thou Shalt Make a Personal Connection – We all need to get a glimpse into the speaker’s life – even if it is far, far away from ours (LOL!). From talking about her sister to her parents, Melania let us into a sliver of her life.
  3. Behold the Power of Color – Melania has an affinity with white. (I, of course, still can’t wear that color for more than 7 minutes without getting schmutz on it!) Wearing white for this speech was powerful; it denoted a new beginning, freshness, and a sense of completion of her husband’s long, journey to the convention.
  4. Thou Shalt Turn Lemons into Lemonade – The hopeful first lady recognized that many listeners might be concerned that she isn’t an American citizen; her dealing with it outright squelched those thoughts. Lesson: address what everyone is thinking.
Address early in a #speech what everyone is thinking. Click To Tweet

What’s your take on Melania’s speech? I have my flak jacket on so I’m ready for ya! Please share your comments below.


  1. My takeaway is that even if it was unintentional on Melania’s part, she voiced agreement with some core ideas from Michelle Obama, a teeny tiny bit of agreement between the Republicans and Democrats. This is how I am choosing to view her speech 🙂

    • Hard work and tenacity are good themes that both both Melania and Michelle mentioned. AND, if the hopeful first lady had cribbed from Barbara Bush, for example, there would not have been this firestorm.

  2. As a person who normally stays out of the limelight, she did many things right and thanks for pointing those out. Unfortunately, the “stealing” phrases got so much attention. Well said, and on trend as usual!

  3. Frankly, I liked her speech and I am NOT a Trump supporter. However, when the controversy was immediately in the media, it detracted from her message and it left me with the same distaste that I have felt all along regarding the Trump campaign.

    • It’s been a looooong road to this convention leaving a bitter distaste. BUT, I agree with you that if you were listening live, she sounded good, compassionate, and real.

  4. Considering English is her sixth language, she did well. Maybe her speech writer copy and pasted Michelle’s speech as inspiration but oops. A little too close. But she if indeed she becomes First Lady, she will be far more effective if she ups the game.

  5. I would have liked to see you comment on some things that Melania did right. It is notable that she was new to this political stage. She handled it with grace.
    I personally think her speech writer set her up. But perhaps I am negative about politics. I personally had more respect for her and also Trump.
    Liz I think your negativity is telling. You have clients that are conservatives as well. Right? Perhaps you could have done it “gooder”.

    • Did you miss my comments on what she did right? She referenced her family, she made it personal, she made a connection, and she spoke eloquently. She also addressed her citizenship which was key – squelching any rumors that she wasn’t an American.

      If you were at the convention and before the comparisons to Michelle Obama’s speech, you would have been impressed; she did good. It was the verbatim sentences that overshadowed her message.

  6. Beauty, grace, class, education! Can’t wait to see her in the White House!

  7. Is it still considered a speech when it is read of a tele prompter? Shouldn’t it be a read?

    • You’re funny! Asking anyone to do a speech (who is not a speaker!) without a teleprompter is beyond our expectations.

  8. Plagiarism is stealing. Either The Trump Machine is too stupid/ignorant to know this…or they think the public is too stupid to recall the parts of the speech they stole. Or maybe they think they are entitled to take whatever they want whenever they want

    Either way it indicates to me just exactly what I think of Trump, about whom I have personal negative anecdotes from over the years…he’s a blowhard, tactless, clueless, dangerous for anyone who cares about detante/tact/diplomacy and his lovely- seeming wife seems sucked into the vortex.

    I’m a writer…don’t steal my words. I will react.

    Intellecutal property, anyone? Oh well Trump et all would need to beg borrow or steal anything that is intellectual in nature.

  9. Melania’s speech was heartfelt and since. Hearing some of the words twice, just made it twice as nice.
    Mailania is a US Citizen. The idea that the Trumps are ameteurs to the political scene is refreshing but it showed in Melania’s speech. A seasoned politico would not have repeated the same words .
    Leave the first Ladies’ out of the fray. Yes double standard.. do not leave out the possible first men, Geradine Ferraro ‘s husband was tossed to the wolves. Clinton’s husband may be one.

  10. I like your thoughts about leaving the first ladies out, but both candidates have clearly immersed their families into the campaign. Bill Clinton is part of Hillary and Melania, Ivanka, Eric, Donald, Tiffany, and other are in 150%.

  11. Here is my 2 cents, though I am not a professional speaker. I feel that you should only stick to phrases that are part of your everyday language.

    When I heard her say “Your word is bond” it made the my ears perk up and not in good way. No matter how much she pratice the speech I could tell it was part of her everyday language.

    The overall speech and delivery were good but I agree she could have used the stage more which made seem a bit stiff and controlled.

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